The Memphis Grizzlies are hoping to have Ja Morant on hand and the Golden State Warriors are confident they have Jordan Poole in uniform as the second and third seeded in the Western Conference playoffs clash in Game 4 of their semifinal series in San Francisco on Monday.
Golden State had taken the lead in Game 3, which won 142-112, on Saturday night when Morant limped off the field favoring his right knee following some sort of collision with Poole with 6:19 left.
All attendees had no words to explain exactly what caused the injury, but when the dust settled, the Grizzlies called for a suspension of Poole, while the third-year guard called the dirty play allegations insane.
“It was a basketball game when we doubled it down,” Poole later said. “I hit the ball and was looking for the ball. I mean, you obviously don’t want to see anyone get hurt. I’m not even that kind of player. I respect everyone. We hope it improves “.
While the Grizzlies awaited the results of Morant’s knee exam on Sunday, they also expected to hear from the NBA a possible punishment for Poole, who at one point put his hand on Morant’s knee shortly after making contact from behind.
No foul was called.
“Jordan Poole actually grabbed his knee and pulled him, which triggered whatever happened,” Grizzlies manager Taylor Jenkins said. “So I’m going to be really very curious to see what happens next.”
Several Grizzlies repeated a phrase used by Warriors manager Steve Kerr in Game 2 when he insisted that Memphis’ Dillon Brooks “broke the code” by beating up Gary Payton II from behind. Payton came out with a fractured elbow in a fall and Brooks was disqualified for one game.
Poole scored 31, 20 and 27 points in the first three games of the series. Only Morant (115) and Stephen Curry (81) scored higher points in the series than Poole (78).
Brooks can return for Game 4 and the Grizzlies could use the help of the defensive specialist on the perimeter. Curry (30 points), Poole (27) and Klay Thompson (21) all surpassed 20 points in Saturday’s offensive showcase.
It was the third time this postseason that the trio have all scored 20 or more in the same game. The Warriors are 3-0 in those games, with two of them in the first round against the Denver Nuggets.
The 142-point blast, the second-highest total in Golden State’s post-season history, was more than Morant could counter. A game after shedding 47 points in Memphis’s Game 2 win that equalized the series, he set a record 34 in the losing suit.
Morant’s 115 points total is the highest ever for the first three games of a series of Western Conference semi-finals. Only Michael Jordan (133 in 1990 and 118 in 1996) scored more in the first three games of the Eastern Conference semifinal.
Grizzlies guard De’Anthony Melton noted that bringing Brooks back should help Memphis on both ends of the field.
“Dillon brings us a lot of fire, offensive creativity and just his mojo out there,” said Melton. “We will regroup, we will put this in the rearview mirror and we will keep pushing.”
Melton said he expects Morant to be a part of it.
“It’s like Wolverine out there,” Melton said. “He Might limp one day, the next day he’ll be fine. He is a warrior. He is a competitor. He is just a hunter. Who knows what his injury level is? He understands his body and he understands what the team needs, so he will make the best decision. “
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